Relentless Forward Progress

At times, I realize the way that I conceptualize running, in both written and spoken form, is very, very serious and goal-driven. I started running in April of 2014, ran my first 5k in May, and got really excited about how I didn’t give up on running at all by July. It just felt so natural, even though it was by no means without difficulty. I quietly asked God to give me the endurance to just run one half-marathon that fall, and if He did, I’d be content, and probably wouldn’t race anything over a 10k again.

Something tells me that I wasn’t the first person to make such an attempt to negotiate with a higher power, only to completely renege later….

Since then, what I affectionately refer to as “crazy runner brain” has taken over, and I’ve continued to set new running goals every few months. I’d like to think I would’ve been perfectly happy running 9:30 min/miles for years, until the day I discovered that I could run paces in the 8s for shorter distances. Then, I wanted to see if that would translate to a half-marathon completion time of under 2 hours, and it did. Unfortunately, there’s a very fine line between working towards incremental improvement and swan-diving into Personal Record Purgatory, where every run has to be proof that a runner is working towards an even better time in the next race. I think this is precisely how some runners (see: self) find themselves absolutely miserable when their bodies show them signs (delicate warnings at first; blaring horns later) that they need to take a break or slow down.

My sign has been shins that are tired before I’ve even gotten into a good stride, which is atypical for me, but not completely unusual for runners collectively.

Sometimes, relentless forward progress means taking a step back and temporarily taking the time goals out of running. This week, that step back was making a physical therapy appointment, purchasing sensible flats for work instead of wearing the leather heels I know my feet (and probably my shins) hate, doing more biking and Pilates (for overall health and body alignment, not just to run faster times), and getting more sleep. I’d also like to start running at least one or two runs a week without my Garmin watch.

All steps forward.

All progress.

And all are being done to take my mind off of the idea that I might just want to run a full marathon at some point just to see what happens (famous last words), after saying just two short years ago that my longest run would be 13 miles. The human brain is a very curious animal…




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